County wants state aid for Ag Center Officials seek about half of $1.5 million cost

March 14, 1996|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

County officials, who are planning a $1.5 million expansion of the Carroll County Agriculture Center, went to Annapolis yesterday to ask the state to foot nearly half the bill.

Officials hope the project can be completed in time for the Carroll County 4-H/FFA Fair's 100th celebration in 1997.

The new building would replace four pole buildings at the center that are used only for the weeklong fair, said David Greene, director of the county extension service.

"The Ag Center has considered for some time taking these buildings down, leveling the ground and putting up a 150- by 250-foot multipurpose building," Mr. Greene said. "It would be 37,500 square feet that could be used for livestock shows, gun shows, crafts you name it anything that could be housed inside."

The building would have restrooms and a commercial-sized kitchen. One end of the building would be two stories, with the upper level open to accommodate auctions, live bands and other events, Mr. Greene said.

In addition to state funding, which requires approval from the General Assembly and the governor, the county would provide $150,000, and the remainder of the cost would be raised privately, Mr. Greene said.

"We would like to start construction at the end of this year's fair in August," Mr. Greene said.

When not being used for the fair, the building would be rented out. "It would be a tremendous economic boon to the county," Mr. Greene said. "Anytime you bring in people for events, they spend money."

The new building would be the only one of its kind in the area, except in Timonium at the state fairgrounds.

Jack Lyburn, county economic development director, said the project could provide a significant boost for tourism in Carroll, providing a site for events such as dog shows, tractor pulls, gun shows, private auctions, horse shows and farm meetings.

Peggy Soper, the center's caretaker, said she has 257 events booked at the Westminster facility this year, with an estimated attendance of 74,000 people.

"The new building would give us a tremendous increase in usage," Ms. Soper said. "We would be able to offer groups space that is hard to get in the county. It will attract new businesses and free us up to accommodate more activities and people."

Pub Date: 3/14/96

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